On a weekend set aside to celebrate the female game, the Kemptville (Ont.) District Minor Hockey Association (KDMHA) made sure its Storm shined brightly.
In honour of the fifth annual World Girls’ Hockey Weekend, an initiative of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Kemptville hosted its first Storm Day
on Oct. 10. Eleven of its 12 girls’ teams played exhibition games against mostly non-league teams.
“We made it a pro-style event in the sense that all of the teams had a warm-up, followed by player introductions and the national anthem,” says Sylvain
Campeau, vice-president of the KDMHA. “We had announcers-in-training from Algonquin College announce the game. And the Algonquin College radio station
broadcasted our three competitive teams’ games.”
With the league usually shutting down for the long weekend, Campeau felt it important that hockey be played on World Girls’ Hockey Weekend. Based on the
feedback he heard, players and parents agreed.
“Because we’re a dual-gender organization they like the fact that that day was dedicated to the girls,” he says. Older girls ran the tables and players who
were referees got to call games. “It really was a day about the Storm,” says Campeau.
That was just one of dozens of events that took place coast to coast to coast over Thanksgiving weekend, all in the name of promoting the female game at the
grassroots level. The Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association female minor hockey leagues hosted goalie clinics. A team from the North Shore Female Ice Hockey Association played at Rogers Arena during the first intermission of the Saturday night game between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
Esso Fun Days were held in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., Brandon, Man., and Edmonton, Alta.
More than five dozen events across the country were registered with Hockey Canada. Each received a patch to commemorate its involvement with World Girls’
“It’s the biggest celebration we have all year,” says Mandi Duhamel, manager of female development for Hockey Canada. “This is a full weekend dedicated to
the celebration of the game. I think it’s important to draw in that attention and just give people a free opportunity to get engaged in any realm of it.
The more we get people to try it or experience it, even if it is just the one or two days a year, it makes that much more of an impact.”
A power outage in Harbour Breton, N.L., didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the 26 girls who came out to Connaigre Arena for an afternoon initially scheduled
for off-ice skills and drills, followed by a ball hockey game. While the stormy weather cut Saturday short for safety reasons, the event will resume on
Harbour Breton hasn’t had a girls’ team in years, says Sandra Dominie, the female representative for Harbour Breton Minor Hockey, so with no teams to call
their own, girls tend to step away from the game once they reach Bantam age. “We don’t want to lose those girls; we want to provide them with some
opportunities for hockey and to do recreation and team sports. Making sure girls have that opportunity to play if they want to play is really important to
Dominie says the association has big plans this season to build on the momentum of World Girls’ Hockey Weekend, including possibly hosting Esso Fun Days
and under-9 and under-12 development camps. The eventual goal: having an all-girls team represent the community at provincials within the next two years.
The centerpiece of World Girls’ Hockey Weekend in Canada was the third annual Long Game on Oct. 10. The game began in Conception Bay, N.L., at 9:30 a.m. AT
and ended 15 hours later in Delta, B.C. All told, 52 games were played in 36 communities in every province and territory. Led by a group of sharp-shooting
Atom players in Chester, N.S., who accounted for 24 goals themselves, Team White defeated Team Red by a cumulative score of 199-187.
“Up in [Hockey] North it was exciting because we mixed ball hockey with ice hockey, so two of their games were on ice and three were ball hockey,” says
Duhamel. “It was a way for them to stay involved. We didn’t want them to go without, so that was a nice touch of still having girls involved.”
This year also saw the event truly connect internationally. The first Global Girls’ Game took place over three days, with 29 federations on five continents
taking part. Twenty-seven players, divided between Team White and Team Blue, dropped the puck in Dunedin, New Zealand. Forty-two hours later, Peewee
players in Verdun, Que., were given the inaugural anchor leg, with Richelieu (Blue) defeating Lac St-Louis (White) 4-2. Team Blue won the Global Girls’
“The unity of the game is what’s most important,” says Duhamel, “and the more we work together to grow it I think the better we’ll be.”
Show us how you celebrated #WGHWCanada for a chance to win one of six prize packs, including tickets to four upcoming women’s events, including the 2016
IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Kamloops, B.C. Full details can be found here.